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Dissertation Marking Criteria

The relative weighting of the different criteria will depend on the research context. For example a project which is essentially literature based will have greater weighting on the criteria relating to literature, whereas a project for which there are few appropriate alternative research methods would not have as great a weighting on the research methods criteria as others.


Satisfactory for MSc


Criteria

80+

70 -79

60 – 69

50-59

Formulate a research question and derived objectives suitable for the degree and consistent with the time and resource available to conduct the research.











Achievement

of project objectives.


The research question and derived objectives are well argued, clear and appropriate.

A gap in current knowledge and understanding is likely to have been identified.

Expected outcomes are expressly articulated and appropriate.

The research question and derived objectives are clear and appropriate.

Expected outcomes are very clear, are articulated and generally achievable with the time and resource available.

The research question is clear but derivation of the objectives may not always be obvious.

Expected outcomes are clear.


Research topic is outlined and justified.

Objectives are stated.

Expected outcomes may be unclear.

The work was perfectly scoped to have been carried out in a balanced manner in the time expected to be available.


The work was scoped to have been carried out in the time expected to be available.


The work was satisfactorily scoped appropriately to have been carried out in the time expected to be available with only some minor aspects overlooked.


The work was mainly scoped to have been carried out in the time expected to be available but with minor aspects overlooked.

Project objectives irrefutably achieved.

There is no evidence of incomplete work.

Project objectives have been achieved.

There is no significant evidence of incomplete work.

Project objectives have mostly been achieved.

There is little evidence of incomplete work.

Project objectives have been generally achieved.

There is some evidence of incomplete work.

Critically evaluate the context of the research, synthesising ideas from a referenced review of relevant source material.

Shows an exceptionally well developed capacity for independent thought demonstrated by exhaustive critical analysis of the literature in the area of application and also demonstrating outstandingly skilful synthesis of disparate sources.


Shows very highly developed ability to analyse, synthesise and apply knowledge and concepts demonstrated by a comprehensive critical analysis of the literature in the area of application and also demonstrating skilful synthesis of disparate sources.

A good attempt at analysis, synthesis and application of a wide range of knowledge and concepts.

There is appreciation of the main issues and the ability to make critical points and substantiate them.


An attempt at analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge and concepts has been made.

There is tendancy towards to rely on easily obtained background source materials and wide use of poorly authenticated material.

This material may not show full integration with the research.

All sources are properly cited and listed and references and bibliography are distinct.

Reliability of sources is addressed fully in analysis.

All sources are cited and listed and references and bibliography are distinct.

Reliability of sources is addressed in analysis.

Sources used are correctly cited and listed but references and bibliography are not distinct.

Reliability of sources is not fully addressed in analysis.

Sources used are generally correctly cited and listed.

Reliability of sources discussed but not addressed in analysis.

Select and justify choice of approach taken in research (i.e. research methods) to suit the requirements of the specific research question and to consider risks in carrying out the project appropriately, applying suitable mitigations.

Shows the full and appropriate selection of and the application of tools/ techniques and approaches used through a rigorous research methodology.

Substantive consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and substantive and appropriate mitigation has been planned.


Clearly demonstrates full understanding and appropriate application of relevant tools/ techniques with a clear and well-argued methodology.

Comprehensive consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and comprehensive and suitable mitigation has been planned.


Demonstrates good understanding and appropriate application of relevant tools/techniques with a clear but maybe incomplete methodological argument.

Some reliance on statement of potential research methods with some discussion of their application to the research topic.

Clear indiction of consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and suitable mitigation has been planned.

Better analysis techniques may be available but are not used.


Demonstrates understanding and application of relevant tools/techniques with an incomplete methodological argument.

Over reliance on statement of potential research methods with limited discussion of their application to the research topic.

Better analysis techniques may be available but are not used and those that are used do not have complete justification in the methodology.

Some indication of consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and some mitigation has been planned.

Devise and perform an investigation, informed by the findings of previous workers in the field, efficiently utilising available resources and dealing with problems appropriately.

Shows a complete conceptual understanding and an outstanding level of technical competance is demonstrated.

The analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge and concepts are excellent.

Shows a highly developed capacity for independent thought demonstrated by exhaustive analysis of the area of application.

Shows a near complete conceptual understanding and an excellent level of technical competence.

The analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge and concepts are good.

There is a complete appreciation of the main issues and the ability to make critical points and substantiate them.


Shows a sound and thorough grasp of the subject matter, good conceptual understanding and a good level of technical competence.

The analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge and concepts are competant.

There is appreciation of the main issues and there is the ability to make critical points and substantiate them.

Although the work may contain some errors, it is technically competent.

The analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge and concepts are competent but relatively routine.

There is some appreciation of the main issues and there is some ability to make critical points and substantiate them.


Present findings in the dissertation with clarity, appropriately evaluating the confidence that should be placed in any findings.

Demonstrates exceptional creativity and originality in application of thought or knowledge and is suitable for circulation wider than the place where the work was carried out (for example it may be suitable for publication in a peer reviewed journal with no more than minor revisions).

Discussion of all concepts used, even very complex ones, are easy to follow and understand and any supporting arguments are easy to follow and understand.

Has conclusions which are fully justifed and supported by the evidence presented, and meets the project objectives.

There is an excellent demonstration of creativity and originality in application of thought or knowledge that can be used more generally and in wider applications than the specific type of task studies (for example it may be suitable for publication at a conference, with no more than minor revisions).

Discussion of all concepts used is easy to follow and any supporting arguments are easy to follow.

The work is very well argued; all the main issues are explored and evaluated and the reasons for the conclusions are clearly indicated.

There is good demonstration of creativity and originality in application of thought or knowledge that can only be applied to the specific task studied.

Discussion of most concepts used is easy to follow and any supporting arguments are easy to follow.

There is good comment on the evidence and materials used in the task with possibly some minor errors that would not have a serious effect on the outcomes which are related to the originally established objectives.


There is a fair demonstration of creativity and originality in application of thought or knowledge that can be applied to the specific task studied.

Discussion of some concepts used is easy to follow, and any supporting arguments are generally easy to follow.

There is sensible comment on the evidence and materials used in the task and the general outcomes are sound and where confusion or gaps exist, they would not substantially affect the outcomes.



Recommendations for further work (where applicable) are practical, detailed and convincing. With clear indication that consideration has been given to additional resources required to undertake the work.

Recommendations for further work (where applicable) are practical and convincing, with some indication that resource requirements have been considered.

Recommendations and conclusions (where applicable) are practical and convincing, with some indication that resource requirements have been considered.

Recommendations and conclusions (where applicable) are practical and could be acted on.

Demonstration of benefit of work undertaken.

Undeniably illustrates the generic benefits and/or, where appropriate, the industrial worth of the research carried out and the candidate's total mastery of the subject matter.

Convincingly illustrates the generic benefits and/or, where appropriate, the industrial worth of the research carried out and the candidate's mastery of the subject matter.

Strongly illustrates the generic benefits and/or, where appropriate, the industrial worth of the research carried out and demonstrated the candidate's strong knowledge of the subject matter.

Weakly illustrates the generic benefits and/or, where appropriate, the industrial worth of the research carried out and demonstrates the candidate's knowledge of the subject matter is acceptable.

Presentation of dissertation



Well-structured with outstanding use of headings and sub-sections that clearly show the development of a logical argument.

All points can be appreciated in one reading.

Well-structured with excellent use of headings and sub-sections that show the development of a logical argument.

Most points can be appreciated in one reading.

The work is easy to read and understand and is well thought through.

Overall structure and the length are appropriate.

Main points can be appreciated in one reading.

A satisfactory overall structure that may lack balance in certain areas or fails to integrate fully all of the material.

Possible inclusion of irrelevant information.

It is easy to appreciate the main points in one reading. Some points may required rereading.

Extremely well produced showing outstanding written communication skills with fautless grammar and spellng.


Well produced, showing a high level of written communication skills with few grammatical and spelling errors.


Effective presentation of dissertation, showing generally good written communication skills with good spelling and grammar.

It is acceptably written with adequate spelling and grammar although may contain some minor errors.


Diagrams where used are appropriately titled and referenced in the text.

The contents sheet includes all the sub-sections and relevant page numbers.

All pages are correctly and clearly numbered.

Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography are presented correctly with few or no errors.

Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography are generally well presented with only minor errors of indexing, proofreading or photocopying.

Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography are satisfactorily presented but may contain errors or show inconsistency.

Ethics

  Ethics okay Ethics not okay

Conduct research in an ethically responsible manner

obtaining ethical approval when necessary

Ethical approval is required,

and evidence has been provided

that ethical approval has been sought and granted.

OR

Ethical approval is not required for this research.

Ethical approval is required,

and has been granted but

supporting evidence of approval is poor or missing.

OR

Ethical approval is required,

but has not been sought/granted.

OR

Research has been undertaken unethically.


Not satisfactory for MSc

Criteria

40-49

May be re-assessed for Pass/Fail against PgDip 60 credit project learning outcomes at resubmission

30-39

Resubmission of first attempt normally allowed

20 - 29

Resubmission of first attempt MAY be allowed, usually for consideration for PgDip only

<20

Trivial, hence resubmission is unlikely to be permitted

Formulate a research question and derived objectives suitable for the degree and consistent with the time and resource available to conduct the research.









Achievement of project objectives.

The problem of study has been identified, with only limited research question(s) and/or objective(s).


Does not demonstrate understanding of the issues

Research question is absent or poorly expressed; objectives lacking or badly formulated.


No research question, research objective(s) unclear , confused or missing.


Inadequate or no evidence of project objectives.

The work was poorly scoped to have been carried out in the time expected to be available, but with major aspects overlooked.

The work was scoped incorrectly and it would not be possible to have been carried out in the time expected to be available.

Insufficient consideration was given to the scope of the work to allow it to be carried out in the time expected to be available.

Inadequate or no consideration given to the scope of the work and the time/resources available.

Project objectives only partially met.
There is evidence of incomplete work.

Some indication of limited achievement of project objectives.

There is strong evidence of incomplete work.

Almost no achievement of project objectives, if any.

There is very strong evidence of incomplete work.

No achievement of project objectives or project objectives do not exist.

Work is incomplete.

Critically evaluate the context of the research, synthesising ideas from a referenced review of relevant source material.

There is a tendency towards uncritical description of the literature.

Literature is poorly analysed and/or unrelated to the tasks carried out.

Background work stated but not properly analysed and not applied to the research task.

The information or data used may have limited relevance.

Showing major gaps in knowledge of the subject matter and many areas of misunderstanding and confusion.

Inadequate review of previous work, with little relation to any project objectives, if any.

Minimal analysis, synthesis and application of knowledge.

Trivial literature review not integrated with project objectives, if any and showing no analysis.

Shows serious gaps in knowledge of the subject matter and many areas of confusion.

Sources used are poorly cited and listed.
Reliability of sources is mentioned but not addressed.

Inconsistant and/or
incomplete recording of sources cited or listed.

Reliability of sources is not mentioned.

Limited numbers of sources or inappropriate and irrelevant sources used or listed.

Very few or no sources used or listed.

Select and justify choice of approach taken in research (i.e. research methods) to suit the requirements of the specific research question and to consider risks in carrying out the project appropriately, applying suitable mitigations.

There is no justified research methodology, but there is an appropriate research plan.

There is limited evidence of consideration of the appropriate alternative methods and analysis that should be used.

Little indication of consideration of the risk associated with the project execution and limited mitigation has been planned.

The research plan is flawed and inappropriate for the research carried out.

Minimal indication of consideration of the risk associated with the project execution.

No indication of planning for mitigation of risk.

The research plan is flawed, inappropriate or missing.

Does not demonstrate the ability to appropriately apply tools/techniques and methodologies.

There is no comment on the background materials used.

Potential risk has not been considered or addressed.


Does not demonstrate understanding of the issues and information/data used may be irrelevant.


Potential risk has not been considered or addressed.

Devise and perform an investigation, informed by the findings of previous workers in the field, efficiently utilising available resources and dealing with problems appropriately.

Shows a limited familiarity with the subject matter, with some serious gaps and misconceptions.


A limited level of technical competance with errors.


There is little appreciated of the main issues and there is little ability to make critical points and substantiate them.

Little or no evidence that concepts and theory have been understood.

Limited or no attempt at analysis.

There is very little appreciation of the main issues and there is very little ability to make critical points and substantiate them.


Lack of integration with the objectives, if any, and contains some significant errors or omissions.

There is no appreciation of the main issues and there is no ability to make critical points and substantiate them.

May contain statements about previous work but there is no added value.

Present findings in the dissertation with clarity, appropriately evaluating the confidence that should be placed in any findings.

There is a poor demonstration of creativity and originality in application of thought or knowledge that can be applied to the specific task studied.

Discussion of some concepts used is not easy to follow and some supporting arguments are not easy to follow.

There is little discussion of the work, or its applications and concepts and theory are weakly understood or there is only a poor attempt to utilise them.

Conclusions drawn from the work are very limited and show no added value from the work carried out.

There is a very limited demonstration of creativity and originality in application of thought or knowledge that can be applied to the specific task studied.

Discussion of concepts used is difficult to follow and supporting arguments are difficult to follow.

There is a lack of critical reasoning and often the project objectives, (where articulated), have been ignored or badly misunderstood.

What objectives there are have been ignored or badly misunderstood.


There is no demonstration of creativity and originality in application of thought or knowledge that can be applied to the specific task studied.

Discussion of concepts used is very difficult to follow and supporting arguments are very difficult to follow.

Lack of integration between area of study and previous work, discussion and conclusions.

Contains some significant errors or omissions.


No attempt at analysis and no application of thought or knowledge.

Discussion of concepts used is missing and supporting arguments are missing.



Recommendations for further work (where applicable) are generally correct but are not sufficiently focussed or detailed to be useful.

Recommendations for further work (where appropriate) are unsubstantiated.

Recommendations for further work (where applicable) are irrelevant.

No recommendations for further work.

Demonstration of benefit of work undertaken.

Poorly illustrate the generic benefits and/or, where appropriate, the industrial worth of the research carried out and only weakly demonstrates the candidate's knowledge of the subject matter.

Does not illustrate the generic benefits and/or, where appropriate, the industrial worth of the research carried out and does not demonstrate the candidate's knowledge of the subject matter.

The industrial and generic worth of the research carried out has not been considered and demonstrates the candidate's lack of knowledge of the subject matter.

There is no industrial or generic worth of the research carried out.

The candidate clearly demonstrates no knowledge of the subject matter.

Presentation of dissertation



Lacking in logical structure, making it difficult to read.

Ideas are poorly expressed, often with mistakes.

Inclusion of some irrelevant information.

It is hard to appreciate the main points in one reading. Many points may require rereading.


Limited or muddled presentation and structuring of arguments.

Inclusion of irrelevant information.

The document is difficult to read and understand.


A poorly structured document that lacks balance and fails to integrate all of the material.

Inclusion of much irrelevant information.

The documnent is very difficult to read and understand.


Unstructured document and arguments.


Less than optimal presentation of dissertation.

There may be a few significant errors in grammar and/or spelling.


The level of expression is inadequate, often being unclear or confused.

There may be significant errors in grammar and/or spelling.


Poorly written.

There may be many significant errors in grammar and/or spelling.


The level of expression and the grammar and/or spelling prevents understanding.


Diagrams, contents sheet are poor and this inhibits the easy reading of the document.

Page numbering, references and bibliography may be poorly presented or some missing.

Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography poorly presented or missing.


Diagrams, contents sheet are poor to the extent that it may mislead the understanding of the report.

Contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography may contain errors and/or show inconsistency.

Diagrams, contents sheet, page numbering, references and bibliography extremely poorly presented or missing.



1 It is recognised that in some project areas, limited “academic” literature will be available so reliance will need to be placed on alternative sources such as commercial literature and information. In such cases clear indication of awareness of and allowances for possible biases would be expected. The term “literature” as used above should therefore be interpreted as source material appropriate for the area for study.